Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron
Also see Mark's review of Red Ash Mosaic
The play begins with Leigh (Molly Israel) and Grace (Rachel Lee Kolis) returning to their well kept apartment after an all night drinking binge at a house where members of the college's athletic team reside. After Grace exits to sleep it off, Leigh rushes to the bathroom and gets violently sick. Sitting on the couch, she wraps herself in a sweater and mutters the first word of the play "Ow."
The stage lights dim, the left section of the set spins around, revealing the living area of the men's dwelling, replete with pizza boxes, party cups and empties. Cooper (Chris Richards) is bragging to his friend Johnson (Jack Schmitt) that their mutual friend Davis (Daniel Scott Telford) scored last night with Leigh.
Complications arise when Leigh claims that she was raped and at the urging of Grace, who is president of the local chapter of Future Leaders of America (a group that worships Ted Cruz, Ronald Reagan, and Phyllis Schlafly), reports the alleged assault to the college. Further muddying the situation is the fact that Leigh was pregnant but lost the baby due either to drinking, drugs, or abusive sex. Her fiancé Jimmy (Randy Dierkes) is one of a very few who knew about the pregnancy. He is also pals with the rest of the team members (Cooper, Johnson and Davis).
Johnson is the first to bail on Davis, wanting only to distance himself from the situation and get his degree with no hint of scandal. Cooper, who is a lifer at the college, is allowed to live there under the protection of Jimmy's father who is on the dean's board. He bears false testimony in order to secure his future. Davis remembers nothing about the night and is paying the consequences by being forced to attend a hearing after being suspended. He is a nice guy whose future is assured by the wealth of his family but whose precious degree is in jeopardy during his last mid-term week.
Leigh is the poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks who is attending on an academic scholarship and has latched on to well-to-do student Jimmy. Leigh had a reputation on campus of being "easy," at least prior to meeting her beau. She has also been secretly in love with Davis since freshman year. Into this maelstrom flies Hayley (Olivia Scicolone), who is the fast and looser sister of Leigh and sees a major payday in the offing.
All of the characters have definite agendas and all of them will do anything to achieve their goals. What you have in effect is a chess match in which real people are the pieces, with each one moving in the only way they can to gain an advantage over the others.
This is a truly adult performance with lots of strong language, very strong themes, blood, and simulated sex. Some members of the audience actually walked out halfway through the first act at the performance I attended, and others did not return after the fifteen-minute intermission. It's not for the faint of heart as the show builds to a surprising and shocking climax that will take many by surprise.
Director Don Carrier truly gets every ounce of emotion possible from his charges in this well-paced drama that manages to get a few surprise laughs. These are real people dealing with real (and often raw) emotions.
The amazing element of the production is the turntable set designed by Cameron Caley Michalak that utilizes every inch of the intimate studio theater stage as it seamlessly changes from the frat house abode of the men to the upscale apartment of the women in the blink of an eye. Trad A Burns gets high marks for his excellent use of mood lighting that sets each scene.
For those who like their drama ripped right out of social media, with frank discussions about sex, binge drinking, abuse and manipulation, this is your play. The roughly two-hour show is graphic to say the least, but it will hold your attention.
The Beck Center for the Arts production of Really Really will be on stage through July 2, 2017, in the studio theater. Tickets may be purchased by calling (216) 521-2540 or online at www.beckcenter.org.